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App Search Optimization (ASO)

Being an Austin SEO Company it’s hard to go a few days without meeting someone who’s working on a new app or works for a company whose sole business is based on an Iphone and/or Android app. Even my banker told me he’s going back to school to learn how to program apps. Coming up with an idea for an app that appeals to the masses is difficult and building it to be slick and easy to use even more so. But the number one challenge app developers I meet tell me they are facing is getting their app found in the Apple App Store and/or Google Play store. They often come to me for SEO services but what they really need is App Search Optimization (ASO) and SEO.

App Search Optimization and SEO services are similar yet very unique. While traditional SEO focuses on increasing your ranking on the major search engines, ASO focuses on getting an app ranking higher for keywords in the App or Play store. A recent Nielsen survey found 63% of people find their apps through the app store search. This percentage is three times greater than every other category other than friends/family word of mouth which is slightly less. With users spending more and more time on their mobiles and tablets than ever before, you have to ensure your app is where users are looking.

App Search Optimization

Ranking Factors

Just like traditional SEO services for Google’s search algorithm for websites, App Search Optimization focuses on making improvements to on-page factors on your App Store/Google Play store page as well as off-page factors.


On-page Factors

  • App Title – Like Title Tags for websites, this is really important and needs to have keywords but also convey your branding without being spammy.
  • Description – This should start with two sentences that describe the app and its primary use and benefits. You can then go into more detail on its features and include any reviews or quotes you have that back the claims you are making.
  • Keyword – This only applies to Apple’s app store. You have 100 characters and need to use them wisely! Like traditional SEO your keywords need to be relevant. You’ll also want to work with an ASO and SEO company to help you understand the search volume and difficulty of ranking for the keywords most relevant to your app. More on how this keyword research differs from the data you get in the Google Keyword Planner below.  Don’t repeat keywords you used in your App Title and don’t use multiple word phrases as Apple combines them for you!


Off-page Factors

  • Ratings and Reviews – Ratings are an important  ratings image factor for your App store rankings and using white hat methods to increase positive ratings will not only increase your rankings but also your conversion rate.  Be careful not to buy rankings and follow Apple and Google’s T&C’s regarding this very closely.
  • Link Building – This applies for the Google Play store. A good app can generate lots of buzz on sites like Tech Crunch and Mashable and give your website fantastic links but generating links to your apps specific page in the Play store is much more difficult without the help of a good SEO.



Differences between the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

While the two stores share a few ranking factors there are three main differences that affect ranking and a fourth that doesn’t but is important for conversion. Firstly, Google has the luxury of utilizing its ever powerful web search algorithm and its years of experience in how this helps sort out the best from the rest. It has chosen to take into account links to the app’s page in the Play Store the same way it takes links to your website into account for your search engine rankings. For this reason having an Austin SEO company like Neon Ambition provide link building to your website AND to your App’s Google Play page greatly increases your chance of showing up in both web and app store searches. This gives your company the best chance of getting in front of users when they are actively searching for an app like yours.


Secondly, Apple doesn’t have years of search engine data to use for its algorithm. Their’s was built  for ITunes to help users find the music they were looking for. When the App Store came along they simply took the fields they used for music and applied them to apps. Whip It (song title) became Angry Birds (App Title), Devo (Musician) became Rovio Entertainment (Developer) and Alternative (music type) became your keywords. Currently description is not being taken into account by Apple although this is likely to change in the near future. Google Play store on the other hand doesn’t have the keyword field so the description field is important to optimize with your keywords.

The last factor is Google Play uses daily active users as a factor and Apple does not. Increasing downloads from users who have actively searched for an app like yours leads to a much higher quality user compared to downloads acquired via paid marketing. They use your app more often and for longer which can lead to an increased daly active user score which then drives your ranking even higher. Increasing downloads and the number of daily active users are typically priority one and two for most app developers so utilizing App Search Optimization and SEO services make alot of sense for app developers.

Getting your app ranking higher in the app store is only beneficial if you are converting those eyeballs into downloads. One way the two stores differ that affects conversion is that the Play store allows video and Apple does not. A good video showcasing how your app works is shown to increase conversion rate.


Differences between ASO and SEO Keyword Research

Unfortunately for most app developers, not only does Apple and Google not release app store search data, but the tools available to them to try and find out how people are searching in the app stores are flawed. Many rely on Google’s Keyword planner (some even are the keyword planner reskinned) which provides the number of monthly searches users are making on Google.com. But people search differently in the app store just as most people write emails differently on their phones than they do when they are at their computer. Neon Ambition’s ASO team has access to data from 1000’s of ASO campaigns dating back to 2010 and is able to leverage findings on how changes to keywords affected traffic and downloads. This allows us to compare search volume  to other similar keywords for a particular category and choose the best combination considering volume, relevancy and difficulty to rank.

Another area we focus on during our research is your user reviews. Hopefully you are reading every review and taking note of the language your users use. They often tell you exactly why they love or hate your app and the reason they bought it or stopped using it. Figuring out the problems you’ve solved for them is likely the same problem/keyword they searched for in the app store to begin with. Even better is when you start analyzing your competitors reviews to see why their customers love or hate them and use that to shape your apps future releases.


How we can help

Neon Ambition is an Austin SEO Company that provides both ASO and SEO services. Because the Google Play store algorithm places an emphasis on link building to the Google Play app page we are uniquely placed to help app developers looking to get their app ranking in both the Google and Apple app stores. We have a three staged approach to ASO based on analyzing your current data and ranking on keywords, competitive analysis on what keywords they are targeting, rate of reviews and consistent messaging found and then finally insight, recommendations and more analytics to track our progress.

Please give us a call today on 512-865-8050 or fill out our contact form on the contact us page and we can discuss the best strategy for your app.

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